The Spreadmark programme was established by the NZ Groundspread Fertilisers Assoc. in 1994 and was subsequently expanded by a group representing Federated Farmers, the NZGFA, fertiliser companies and FertResearch.
The Spreadmark scheme is a fertiliser placement quality assurance programme. It has as its objective the placement of fertilisers in locations where they can be of the most agricultural benefit and the least environmental harm.
The scheme will register spreading companies provided they have certified spreading machinery, trained operators and an appropriate quality management system which ensures that farmer/grower outcomes are met and environmental sustainability is protected. Overall systems will be subject to an independent audit to ensure that both farmers/growers and Regional Councils can have confidence in the programme.
There is no doubt that the proper placement of fertiliser is of considerable agronomic benefit to farmers and growers and will help protect the environment from the undesirable side effects of poor fertiliser spreading practices.
The precision placement of fertiliser requires a number of factors. It depends on the careful integration of operator skills, sound spreading equipment and appropriate fertilisers. It is the integration of these factors that is at the heart of the Spreadmark scheme. Registration is voluntary but the scheme has been designed and will be operated and promoted in such a way as to encourage all operators to become involved.
The Spreadmark scheme is governed by a Council consisting of representatives from fertiliser user groups, fertiliser applicators and fertiliser manufacturers. The Spreadmark scheme operates closely with its sister scheme, Fertmark and these two schemes operate together to ensure that high quality fertiliser is manufactured, mixed and spread in a way that precision agriculture is fostered and the environment is protected. Both schemes have strong links to the Code of Practice for Fertiliser Use.
The Spreadmark scheme has recently received JAS-ANZ approval after a rigorous three year review process. This involved a review of the Spreadmark programme against the toughest of international certification standards. Aspects that were reviewed included the technical soundness of the programme as well as governance, auditing and certification methods and reporting.
If an operator has the Spreadmark tick, farmers know that:
- Spreader operators have been trained
- Equipment is independently assessed and systems audited.
- Fertiliser is being applied at an even rate and distribution pattern.
- They can be confident a Spreadmark operator will place fertiliser where they want it.